What does the WHO stand for and what do they do?

21 April 2020, 15:13 | Updated: 21 April 2020, 16:03

What is the World Health Organisation?
What is the World Health Organisation? Picture: PA

Your need-to-know on The World Health Organisation (WHO) and what they do.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is a United Nations (UN) organisation that aims to "promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable".

Find out more about the WHO on their website.

As the entire world is affected by the coronavirus pandemic, you will have likely heard a lot about the organisation in the news.

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UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said that the WHO is "absolutely critical" in coordinating global efforts against Covid-19.

Here is your need-to-know how it works and who funds it.

What does the World Health Organisation do?

They aim to "promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable".

Their website states: "Our goal is to ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being."

The World Health Organisation has been described as 'critical' to coordinating global efforts against Covid-19
The World Health Organisation has been described as 'critical' to coordinating global efforts against Covid-19. Picture: PA

What does WHO stand for?

WHO stands for World Health Organisation. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, but there are 150 of its offices around the world.

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It is governed by the World Health Assembly, which is responsible for selecting the Director-General.

The current Director-General is Tedros Adhanom, who is former Health Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia.

When did the WHO start?

It was first set up in April 1948, which is a date that is commemorated annually with World Health Day.

Who funds the WHO?

The World Health Organisation has a yearly budget of $4.2 billion, which is funded by its 194 member countries.

The USA provided the biggest chunk of funding in the years 2018-19, which amounted to around $893million. However, last week President Donald Trump announced that he would be halting funding to the WHO, claiming that they did not do enough to stop Covid-19 from spreading.

The WHO also receives funding from the charity that Bill Gates and his wife run, called the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. They billionaire said that the WHO's "work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organisation can replace them".

Tedros Adhanom is the Director General of the WHO
Tedros Adhanom is the Director General of the WHO. Picture: PA

The UK provides the third biggest contribution to the WHO, and gave around $435 million between 2018 and 2019.

It also receives funding from China, who gave $86 million in 2018-19, and an organisation called The GAVI Alliance, which is an international organisation created to improve access to vaccines for children in the world's poorest countries. The GAVI Alliance contributes around $370 million.

Other European countries and the European Commission also provide funding to the WHO.

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